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It is a popular and simple promotion process underway in Forest Park’s police department. With the recent retirement of Deputy Chief Mike Keating, the ladder opened for a series of internal promotions.

Lt. Ken Gross will move up to deputy chief. Sgt. Peter Morrissette will move up to lieutenant. There will be an opening for a new sergeant and, presumably, then a new officer.

It is the time-honored way. There are positives in the tradition. Chief Tom Aftanas expresses high regard for Gross. He singles out his determination to always be active in the actual work of cops in Forest Park. “Ken leads by example,” says Aftanas. Rising higher will make that more challenging but still admirable. 

That said, and we’ve said it before, the diminishing racial diversity on the Forest Park force, an outcome forced by retirements and departures, is problematic. Aftanas knows this. So does Mayor Rory Hoskins. This village piles up an inordinate number of lawsuits charging overreactions by Forest Park officers in interactions with African Americans. Having fewer black officers and, effectively, no black cops in leadership of the department is troubling.

The solution is likely to be long term. Perhaps there is a path for a black officer to take the open sergeant’s post. Surely there are more effective ways to expand recruitment of diverse recruitments. This needs to stay on the radar. We intend to do our part.

In the meantime, our congratulations to both Gross and Morrissette.